By: Erin Whalen

E&P’s Intreprid Reporter Tries Online Classifieds

by Erin Whalen

I’m searching in cyberspace for the job of my dreams, a
human-resources management position, but I am picky. I will
live only in Austin, the Dallas-Fort Worth area, or Corpus
Christi, Texas, or in the vicinity of Seattle. I have four
years experience, unlimited energy and impeccable references.

And why shouldn’t I be choosy, since I am a figment of my
imagination – a fantasy job seeker custom-designed to test the
efficiency of general online job-hunting services (such as versus newspapers’ online classifieds.

But I am also frustrated. Frustrated by Web searches for ‘human
resources manager’ that bring up listings for custodial personnel
who ‘must be Christ-centered.’ Frustrated with the idiosyncrasies
of each search engine.

Some have no listing for ‘human resources.’ Some don’t allow you
to search by city, only by state. And some return results that
make you suspect that the great Computer God is quite a joker.

I admit that I’m no tech-head, but I cannot comprehend how any
mistake I could make in entering the keywords ‘human resources
manager’ could lead to listings for telemarketers, social
workers, and foresters. And what does ‘Boolean’ mean anyway?

However, I have to say, grudgingly, that in the war between
newspapers’ online classifieds and the online headhunting
services such as, many may find the headhunters in
the lead.

A quick search of led to a listing of 193 ‘HR’ jobs,
all relevant to my search and in the locations I requested. (On
the day I searched, there were 438,266 jobs overall in its
database.) I created my own account in less than five minutes and
then went on to create ‘job agents’ that used my criteria to
search the listings for any new jobs that came up. A notice was
sent to my e-mail account if my busy agents found anything of

Using proved to be more of a challenge. I’ve come
to the conclusion that I either have a computer deficit disorder
or is broken. Repeated attempts to find jobs led
to a listing of 480 jobs located throughout the United States –
but only three in the locations I requested.

On another occasion, 14 human resources jobs were mixed in with
ads for nursing, survey party personnel, and sales positions.
One nice feature of the service, however, is that it lists the
sources for some of its jobs so that you can go back to the
newspapers they were posted in.

Quick samplings of CareerMosaic,, and JobOptions
provided me with mostly relevant listings, but all of these
services averaged a return of only about 15 jobs. Of course, I
did not go to the lengths of creating a fake r?sum? online for
potential employers to review, but if I had, the number of jobs
returned would most likely have been higher.

Scanning the online newspaper classifieds in my A-list locations
(Texas and Seattle) was a more arduous task, in mastering the
varying search mechanics, but it led to a list of about 100 or
so jobs. Surprisingly, only a few of these were repeats of other
searches, so the Monster.coms of the classified world have not
yet succeeded in rendering newspaper classified sections obsolete.

What newspapers need to do, however, is make their search engines
more user-friendly – that is, job searching for idiots – so that
seekers are not turned off by tools that force us into a Catch-22:
either you specify everything you need, and get no results, or
browse ads for everything from aardvark trainers to zydeco dancers
and hope that you spot a job before your eyes fall out.

Some papers have already made this move, consolidating with others
under one search engine to lessen headaches ( is one
example). But as for me, I think I’ll go back to using my
ink-stained hands – and a big red marker.


Erin Whalen was a summer intern at E&P.

(c) Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher

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